Imagine the modern high-tech world, with its millions of applications, without IT support services. No need to say it would be complete chaos. Flaws in banking, healthcare, and marketing systems, data breaches, customers’ frustration, and collapses of enterprises. Today, when the growth of a business directly depends on its technological maturity, professional maintenance and support for the healthy functioning of apps become vital. Therefore, companies employ application support engineers. Application support engineers are responsible for software app installation, monitoring, maintenance, updating, and support. It is they who ensure program effectiveness and initiate improvements. And nobody else but they are in charge of foreseeing the system failures and taking care of arising issues.
A company can hire its own application support engineers or assign their responsibilities to an external provider. Having your own staff to deal with app support guarantees stability in a sense. But its costliness, inflexibility in terms of price and scope, and expertise limitations inspire more and more business owners to look for alternatives. As the tech world moves on, outsourced IT support services gain popularity and might be a great solution for those who are ready for a change. In this article, we are going to give an insight into its value, various forms, and pricing models, as well as some tips on how to choose the right vendor and proceed afterward.
Benefits of outsourcing IT support
Along with obvious advantages such as higher business productivity, increased customer loyalty, better transparency, and the possibility of flexible payment schedules, outsourced IT support has other benefits that are worth mentioning. Among them are:
- Adjustability. The number of services rendered can be adjusted to the company’s needs. This is different from having in-house employees, which requires fixed salaries and workload.
- Better performance. Due to the growing number of IT providers and rigid market competition, the contractors strive to ensure the best quality possible. They are usually interested in establishing long-term cooperation with their customers. That is why vendors offer highly-specialized professionals to address every specific request.
- Cost-savings. IT engineers are here round-the-clock in case of emergency, and they are available from day one without additional costs for vacations, sick-leave, and office space rent.
- Broad knowledge base. The third-parties engage multi-skilled personnel and groundbreaking technology. Moreover, they have access to costly licenses and rare subscriptions that small companies wouldn’t be able to afford anyway.
- Optimization of human resources. Having some processes outsourced frees up internal staff for developing the brand, bringing in new ideas, taking better care of clients, and hence producing better products.
Varieties and payment options of IT outsourcing support
Presently, companies can choose an IT outsourcing model that suits them best. This choice depends on the volume, regularity, and complexity of tasks.
According to its project scope, a firm can order:
- all-round outsourcing, when vendors provide full support, including assessments and recommendations;
- selective outsourcing, involving just several aspects of the project. Based on the provider’s location, the following types can be distinguished:
- onshore outsourcing, when the client and the contractor are located in the same country;
- offshore outsourcing, when the vendor is from a different country, continent, and time zone;
- a mixed approach, allowing for the allocation of tasks between the domestic and foreign firms.
When choosing an IT support outsourcing company to work with, bear in mind such determinative factors as a communication barrier, cultural gap, and time differences.
The good news to the budgets of many companies is that there are various pricing solutions available when outsourcing:
- dedicated teams, when a designated team works on your project on a long-term basis, with fixed responsibilities and regular payments;
- shared teams, when payments are lower since the work is performed by a team serving multiple customers and projects at once;
- subscription fee, covering the arising issues on a monthly or yearly basis for a set payment. This solution is suitable when the number of tasks can be easily predicted, and they are mostly minor.
- incident-based approach, good for rare issues. It is based on payments made as and when necessary to deal with sporadic problems.
- mixed-model, appropriate when the number of tasks is more or less known. In this case, all the extra issues are paid for separately.
The main challenge when choosing the best pricing model is proper evaluation of workload so that the clients won’t be overpaying. A good practice is to review work results 1-2 months after the start of cooperation to adjust the service demands according to the real workload. You can also switch to a different form of payment depending on your current demands.
How to outsource
So how to proceed if you decide to outsource your IT support?
Step 1. Agree on it with your management. Make it known to your bosses that there’s a need to involve a third-party company. Together you can determine the budget, scope, form, and desirable outcomes of services.
Step 2. Select the vendor. At this stage, it’s important to find out as much as possible about the prospective partner’s experience, approaches, compliance with QC and QA requirements and data security policies, etc. Find time to interview the engineers who will be assigned to work on your project. Are their skills and level of communication sufficient? Did they work in your industry before? Do they have the same values as you? Are they willing to learn more about your technology? If one of the answers is no, consider the consequences when deciding in favor of this vendor.
Step 3. Sign a contract. When entering into business relations, clearly define the service delivery time, expected KPIs, and payment conditions. Engage your legal advisors to envisage delays, inadequate performance, penalties, and termination arrangements.
Step 4. Transfer the duties. This phase requires weeks, sometimes months. The provider needs time to study your IT documentation and get acquainted with the project.
Step 5. Monitor performance. Gather feedback from your app users, as well as from your IT department, and take a close look at the third-party’s reports. If you discover that the quality of services is unsatisfactory, note down and assess all the agreement breaches, negotiate them with the contractor and, if necessary, switch the vendor.
Of course, the pros and cons of outsourcing IT support are subject to discussion. Whatever the case, apps are an integral part of every company’s operation. A smoothly functioning app significantly enhances customers’ experience and brings in profits. Andersen has deep expertise in outsourcing IT support of any complexity and in all kinds of industries. Do not hesitate to contact us to boost your IT effectiveness.
Viacheslav Stetsenko, IT Service Management expert:
Application support outsourcing has proven itself as an effective business over the past years. A great variety of outsourcing organizations give clients the possibility to find the one that will surely match their requirements, no matter whether it’s a cost optimization priority or a high performance need. And the benefits of application support outsourcing can substantially exceed its risks and disadvantages. With the increase of remote work culture popularity, usage of outsourcing support services becomes more popular, and its business value nowadays is much higher than ever before.